Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Request for Clarification

My colleague Brad Hart, using this website as a source, writes in a post below:

In fact, David Barton, a popular Christian nation apologist, has seized upon the perceived orthodoxy of these various universities to defend his claim that 52 of the 55 signers to the Constitution were orthodox Christians.


[For those who came in late, David Barton is a well-reviled right-wing historian-advocate who argues for the Christian origins of the United States.]


Here's the thing---there were 40 signers of the Constitution, not 55.

There were 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, not 55.

When I google "52 of 55 signers," I get a lot of hits, most of them cut-and-pastes of a pro-Christian email, the rest are cut-and-pastes of a secularist rebuttal featuring historian Clinton Rossiter's opinion, which Brad Hart also reproduces below.

What I can't find is Barton's actual claim, only second-hand accounts of what Barton supposedly said. Apparently it comes from a Barton book called "America's Godly Heritage," actually a 40-page pamphlet that accompanies a 1993 video of the same name.

Barton made some amateurish errors back then and has attempted to clean up his scholar act since then. Does Barton still make that claim? What claim was it?

How many out of how many signers of what document were what? I'm so confused...

26 comments:

Brad Hart said...

The number 55 comes from the 55 delegates to the convention...or at least that is what Barton concludes in his book, America's Godly Heritage. The main point is that he provides little to no support for such a statement. J. L. Bell over at Boston 1775 had some interesting things to say on this issue. Here is the link:

http://boston1775.blogspot.com/search?q=mike+huckabee

Make sure to read the comments section as well.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Yes, but what did Barton actually say? Does he still say it?

All I get is second-hand stuff. And as you can see, these things mutate so much that the website you quoted turned them into signers of the Constitution!

Brad Hart said...

It's funny you should ask that, Tom. Just last night I was watching the American Heritage series in TBN where Barton affirmed his belief. He originally made the comments in his book, Original Intent and to my knowledge has not backed away from it.

Brad Hart said...

Oops...the book he made this claim is was America's Godly Heritage. I have them both sitting here on my bed and got them mixed up...sorry.

Tom Van Dyke said...

I'm not going to defend the claim. I just want to definitively know what it was.

Brad Hart said...

There are some videos as well where Barton makes the same claims. I will try to track them down.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Well, you see the reason for this post, then...

bpabbott said...

Regarding Barton if his fans (OFT for example) didn't prefer him as a historian over *real* historians, and if Barton didn't misrepresent historical accounts so as to substantaite his ideology, there would be no motive to criticize him.

Barton is many things; (1) a best-selling author, (2) a former teacher, (3) an ordained minister, and (4) a political activist. However, he is not a historian.

Regarding Baron's unconfirmed quotations, Barton denies claiming that Jefferson used one-directional to describe the wall of seperation, and yet the words below;

"On January 1,1802, Jefferson wrote to that group of Danbury Baptists, and in this letter, he assured them—he said the First Amendment has erected a wall of separation between church and state, he said, but that wall is a one-directional wall. It keeps the government from running the church, but it makes sure that Christian principles will always stay in government."

are spoken by Barton in his video "America's Godly Heritage". I'd hoped to find this video on youtube, but do not see it there (perhaps it is on GodTube or Google-Videos?).

There is a rather specific critique of Barton here. There are more specific charges here.

For me the important point is that Barton is an activist, not a historian. He is constructive as an activist, but the history he promotes is suspect.

bpabbott said...

A list of specific assertions of Barton's fraudulent claim can be seen here.

As I've not seen the video America's Godly Heritage, I can't vouch for the claims. However, if anyone is interested in getting a copy you can obtain one here for $20.

... or you can watch it piece by piece here.

Raven said...

Well, Tom. I am still undecided as to whether to classify you as a punk-ass bitch or a bitch-ass punk. Help me out here. Your lame attack in the post below reveals your arrogance. I on the other hand, make no qualms about my bias. I can't stand phonies, which is why you are such an excellent target.

Oh, bring that dollar over to my place any time...I'll make sure to wipe your ass with it!

Our Founding Truth said...

As I've not seen the video America's Godly Heritage, I can't vouch for the claims. However, if anyone is interested in getting a copy you can obtain one here for $20.>

All you can post is unconfirmed quotations that the particular person could or could not have made, based on their writings.

Rehashing something that happened fifteen years ago, is right down your alley.

David Barton is an historian, and one of the best.

Brad Hart said...

Ok, Raven:

I believe that I speak for the majority when I say that you have contributed NOTHING constructive to this blog. All you have done is attack those who share a different view. To be honest, I cannot recall a time when you have EVER given us YOUR take on anything.

I am going to make this as simple as possible. If you levy another blatant attack at ANYONE for ANY REASON I will delete it. You and everyone else is welcome to argue and disagree to your heart's content, but the moment you start in with this stuff is when this blog starts heading for the toilet.

Brad Hart said...

OFT writes:

"David Barton is an historian, and one of the best.

Wow...I am completely speechless...and that is a rare thing indeed.

Our Founding Truth said...

Hey Tom,

Have you seen the lies pabbott or whatever his name is? He's posting actual quotes the framers wrote, and calling them bogus. Doesn't purposeful fraud get you banned on here? Who else has posted lies on here, knowing their false, just to slander?

A list of specific assertions of Barton's fraudulent claim can be seen here.

Click on the link he has highlighted.

Our Founding Truth said...

OFT writes:

"David Barton is an historian, and one of the best.

Wow...I am completely speechless...and that is a rare thing indeed.>

Well, Brad, let's see the lies Barton writes, not the bogus quotes appott writes?

bpabbott said...

OFT: "All you can post is unconfirmed quotations that the particular person could or could not have made, based on their writings"

They are not unconfirmed. I watched several portions on GodTube and came across several of the quotes.

If there is a specific one you think is not there, point it out.

Regarding Barton as a historian, my recollection is that it is his claim that he is *not* one.

Barton is an activist and as such he presents a biased perspective (as is generally true of activists).

If he were a historian there never would have been an "unconfirmed quotations". He may make an effort today to avoid such errors, but it is not his mission to provide an unbiased historical record.

Jonathan Rowe said...

The footnotes can come later, but here is my understanding. The 52 out of 55 (delegates to the Constitutional Convention, not signers of the Constitution) comes from the late ME Bradford of U. Dallas. He was a legitimate historian, though if you google his name he has an interesting past. Put in "Bill Bennett" along with his name and you'll see some interesting reading.

Bradford found he could connect at least 52 of the 55 to orthodox Churches, which proves nothing because arguably, I think, you could connect 55 to them. Two of the three Bradford did not connect (the "Deists") included Ben Franklin and James Wilson, both of whom you could connect to Episcopal and Presbyterian Churches.

The criteria that Bradford uses --formal or nominal connection to a Church with a Trinitarian creed --connects Jefferson to the Anglican/Episcopal Church and Adams to the Congregational Church.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Thx for all this, but I just want to know what Barton actually said and if he still says it.

Pinky said...

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No comment.
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But, I do want to follow this thread.

Pastor Bob Cornwall said...

As for Barton being a historian -- if you claim that he is an amateur historian or self-taught, well I suppose you can make a case. But as for being a trained historian -- and one of the best I'm a bit flabbergasted.

He has virtually no training as a historian. He lacks graduate education in any historical field. So, from that perspective, I'm not sure how that kind of claim can be made.

So, I would say that Barton is as much a trained historian as I am a trained physicist. I took a couple of courses in college and I read a lot of science related material, but that doesn't make me a scientist!

Our Founding Truth said...

He has virtually no training as a historian. He lacks graduate education in any historical field. So, from that perspective, I'm not sure how that kind of claim can be made.>

Education put aside, I would claim there isn't a better historian on the founding era on this planet.

Brad Hart said...

OFT writes:

Education put aside, I would claim there isn't a better historian on the founding era on this planet.

OMG!!!

Hey, I have some beach front property to sell you in Kansas!

There comes a point when one can go too far in defending his/her point of view, and enter the world of delusions. Calling David Barton one of the best historians is flirting with that delusion.

bpabbott said...

Pastor Bob Cornwall: "[Barton] has virtually no training as a historian. He lacks graduate education in any historical field. So, from that perspective, I'm not sure how that kind of claim can be made."

I'll qualify my opinion. I don't think a lack of formal training, or education is important. There are many students of science who are not scientists and many students of history who are not historians.

To qualify as a historian (in my opinion) you must practice the occupation in a competent manner. You mush publish in peer reviewed journals. That is accepted into publication in a professional journal respecting history becomes part of the body of knowledge we call history.

To be clear, I'm saying that the bar is higher than Pastor Bob Cornwall has stated. It is not enough to attend classes and obtain a degree, one must actually be successful in the practice of the discipliine before he/she qualifies as a historian.

Also keep in mind that even successul historians are not accepted as authorities. It is only their peer reviewed work that has met any such burden ... and even then it can be wrong.

OFT, I'll concede that Barton is a historian if you can provide evidence that he has demonstrated competetence by publishing in a peer reviewed historical journal regarding the founding period of American history.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Blah blah blah. Sorry I lost interest in the comments above. Y'all can continute to debate personalities, although it says more about you than him.

I just want to know what David Barton actually said, and if he still says it. It was a question, a request for clarification. An open and neutral inquiry. And still no answer, no facts, just emotion and opinion.

Instead, it's turned into a Rorshach Test on religion and the Founding. But that's probative in its own way. Thx for revealing yrselves. My purpose wasn't to trick y'all into it; you did it all of your own accord. Now we know who's who and what's what. God bless.

Raven said...

Tom, quit acting like you are so far superior to everyone else here...like you are on a higher plane of thoight.

Pinky said...

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Life appears to be one gigantic tv game show, Raven.
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Do you think the person that designs the "Word Verification" codes is a comedian?
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